For the first time in nearly a quarter-century, Dom Starsia will not be patrolling the sidelines as head coach for Virginia Lacrosse. Instead, meet Lars Tiffany. Tiffany was announced as the new man for the job on June 21, 2016 by Virginia Athletics Director Craig Littlepage. Said Littlepage:
“I’m excited to welcome Lars Tiffany to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia to lead our men’s lacrosse program. Lars is one of the country’s more innovative coaches. His program is based on the development of young men as student-athletes and pushing them to excel in the classroom, in the community, and in competition. This foundation, combined with an aggressive and attacking style of play at both ends of the field, has proven to be successful over the course of his coaching career. His vision for our program to annually compete for championships and achieve high academic performance is in alignment with our goals of Uncompromised Excellence.”
Despite the change, there are some similarities between Starsia and Tiffany that should (or may) provide some comfort to those Virginia fans who don’t quite know what to expect. Like Starsia, Tiffany played his college lacrosse at Brown (class of ‘90) - where Dom was his head coach - and coached at his alma mater before coming to Virginia.
In September at a fundraiser for Harlem Lacrosse, Tiffany introduced his mentor Dom Starsia, who was the guest of honor for the event. “It’s the most nervous I’ve been for a speech in 20 years.” Tiffany said of the responsibility. “I had to talk about Dom. A man I really love. The man who sort of gave me permission to coach...through him I saw what one man can do to make an impact on others.”
Tiffany, being familiar with both Coach Starsia and the Virginia program, knew a little of what he was getting into by accepting the job in Charlottesville (from his bio):
“Stepping into the seat as the head coach of the Virginia’s Men’s Lacrosse program brings both a tremendous exhilaration and responsibility. I am very fortunate to have Craig Littlepage entrust me with this program. It is also clearly understood that the coaches and athletes of Virginia Lacrosse that have come before me have established a very high bar for measuring success in Charlottesville. My staff and I are eager to begin working with the men as we establish the principles and guidelines of our aggressive, fast-paced system of play that relies upon uncompromising fitness, competitive fire and a passion, and joy, for the game of lacrosse.”
Before taking over at Brown, Tiffany served as the assistant coach at LeMoyne, Washington & Lee, Dartmouth, and Penn State. In 2004, Tiffany got his first head coaching job as he took over at Stony Brook for two seasons before being hired at Brown. While at Stony Brook, Tiffany led the Seawolves to their first ever top-20 ranking, boasted the nation’s top man-up unit, and was named the 2005 America East Coach of the Year.
As the head honcho at Brown, Tiffany continued to show he was one of the game’s rising stars. In his ten year span at the Bears, Tiffany had just two sub-500 seasons (2011 and 2012) and won the Ivy League title four times (2008, 2009, 2015, and 2016). In 2009, the Bears earned their first NCAA tournament berth since 1997 and made the tournament again in 2015 and 2016. When Tiffany took over at Brown, they went from winless in the Ivy league in 2006 to a 7-7 record in 2007.
Tiffany led Brown to a record-breaking 16-3 season in 2016 - the most wins in Brown program history - taking the Bears to the Final Four before they fell to to Maryland in overtime. Dylan Malloy won the 2016 Tewaaraton Award for the best player in the league, and nine other Brown players made All-American teams under Tiffany. The Bears also defeated Virginia 19-11 in 2016. In ten seasons at Brown, Tiffany finished with a 95-56 overall record.
Virginia fans will need to get used to a new style under Tiffany as he preaches speed, transition, and fast-paced games. He will serve as the defensive coordinator, and brought Sean Kirwan on as offensive coordinator and Virginia alum Kip Turner (the starting goalie on the 2006 undefeated national championship team) to coach goalies and faceoffs.
One thing Virginia fans will like about Lars Tiffany is his no-nonsense mentality and his dedication to developing men. According to Matt Kinnear of Inside Lacrosse, “Tiffany has formed the "Sabre Committee," which consists of the three captains, as well as representatives from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes and meets with Tiffany about team issues, giving players ownership of the decision-making process.” His three captains this season are redshirt senior defenseman Tanner Scales, senior midfielder Will McNamara, and senior attackman-turned-midfielder Ryan Lukacovic.
The Hoos kick off the 2017 season with a stiff test at #5 Loyola on Saturday, which you can watch live-streamed on Twitter.